Hawaiian tourism boss George Szigeti floated an interesting idea when he paid Travel a visit last week. He noted how a US Customs Preclearance scheme would make access to Hawaii much easier for Kiwi travellers.

The Preclearance system allows passengers to complete Customs checks for US ports of entry from the airport of departure. Saves you queuing up and faffing about on arrival, which means in the case of many of the Canadian airlines, they can fly into smaller, domestic airports which are much easier for passengers to get into and out of. They do it with a lot of Canadian airports, a few in the Caribbean and, oddly, Dublin and Abu Dhabi.

The system makes terrific sense. If you're smart, you arrive a couple of hours early for an international flight and once you've checked in and cleared Customs there's usually at least an hour to kill. Far better to get the Customs checks required at the other end out of the way too.

There are costs involved in setting up Customs stations in other countries. A high-placed source at a major US airline told me it might come to about $10-$15 per passenger. Seems reasonable to me, given it could save an hour of your time at the other end, when you're completely exhausted and frazzled.


Instead, you exit the plane and the airport in the same manner as if you were arriving on a domestic flight. Fabulous!

Airports around the world should be pushing this process for all destinations.